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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
               Wednesday, September 11 2002 

"As" and "like"

For some years I've been aware of problems with the widespread misuse of "as" and "like" in general speech and writing, but I've only now realized some theological implications of that misuse. And though it's always dangerous to exegete the English Bible, I think my friend Mike Masterson and I have stumbled into a significant insight. Before explaining, I've probably left some readers behind with the phrase "exegete the English," so let me illucidate that first. "Exegete" means to dig into a document's or doctrine's language to find additional or alternate meanings than the surface understanding. It's part of the art and science of interpretation, and "interpretation" is the bedrock of all religious scholarship.

What did the teacher "really mean" in the words we received? If you think a word means one thing but the teacher means something else by it, getting your thinking in line with the teacher's is possible only by learning to correctly interpret that teacher's meanings. "Exegeting" is "mining" all the meanings possible in the language to make sure we're not missing something. Most Bible studies, from the living room groups to the highest academic scholarship, revolve around exegeting or the noun form of the word, exegesis. Exegeting the English Bible is dangerous because the English Bible itself is a work of interpretation representing the translators' best judgments about what the original words in Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic, mean when rendered in English.

My friend Mike told me over lunch recently that he was jolted by his reading in a Bible study book about the interpretation or digging into of the meaning of one of the most simple declarations in the Gospels: "Love your neighbor as yourself." "Of course," Mike thought as he read, "I've...." And then the jolt came from the author's words: "Not 'as much as' yourself, but as yourself. In other words, consider your neighbor to be yourself. Because that is how God considered, and considers, us in becoming one of us in order to save us."

In other words, I responded to Mike, it doesn't mean "love your neighbor like yourself, but rather as if he is yourself." It makes a world of difference. Among other things, it means that you give alms not mainly to learn and practice generosity, but rather to learn to empathize and, very pointedly, to learn by doing to stop judging your brothers and sisters in the guise of the "down and out" because we see in them just how down and out we are ourselves.

But this raises so many questions that I'll have to defer taking them up in the next postcard.

New photos: The latest gallery is 20 photos of the Eiffel Tower.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Found in Britain

And...remember, it's their language!

Outside a second-hand shop: WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR WIFE ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?

Notice in health food shop window: CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS

Spotted in a safari park: ELEPHANTS: PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR

Seen during a conference: FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T KNOW IT, THERE IS A DAYCARE ON THE FIRST FLOOR

Notice in a field: THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.

—Sent by Frank Charney

Thought for today

Without commonly shared and widely entrenched moral values
and obligations, neither the law, nor democratic government,
nor even the market economy, will function properly.

— Vaclev Havel,
Czech poet and former President

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